Decision Maker Response

Sandra Sagert’s response

Sandra Sagert
Mayor, City of Anaheim

May 22, 2015 — Good afternoon,

I have been asked to respond on behalf of our City Council since I am the Contract Administrator for Animal Care Services in Anaheim. Disneyland’s cat colonies are very healthy and thriving, and Anaheim has never and will never trap and kill cats. There has been misinformation posted on social media, below is how Anaheim cares for our feral cat population

The City of Anaheim is committed to caring for our feral cat population, and that includes attention at the root of long-term care: spaying and neutering. Like many of you, many of us at City Hall consider cats as a part of our families. That is why since 1989 we agreed to partner with Orange County Animal Care Services to provide animal care services including field, shelter and licensing services, and shelter services for all animals including the care of any unwanted, sick or severely injured animals. This includes the caring, monitoring and managing of our feral cat population. Unfortunately there have been some recent misunderstandings regarding the City’s municipal code as it relates to feral cats. The City code addresses the well-being of feral cats, and encourages well-meaning cat care persons to evaluate the total environment so it does not lead to health concerns – for the cat, other animals, or the person.

The ordinance is filed under the ‘Nuisance’ chapter. We are not implying cats are a nuisance, but uncared for cat colonies can promote unhealthy environments, and sickness including typhus. In addition, it is documented that cat food and water left out for feral cats can and will attract coyotes, also a concern for homes with children and pets.

Anaheim has already had several cat colonies in excess of 30 feral cats and had a typhus case in one neighborhood. It was this case that prompted the City of Anaheim to enact an ordinance. Safety is our primary goal.

Many of you are familiar with and utilize the County’s Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Program, and we thank you for your participation. The TNR program entails locating feral cats, evaluating them for care, spay or neuter and then return in the area where they were found. If a feral cat has health issues such as starvation or illness then they are not returned. This program specifically assists the neglected feral cat population and by not having this program these cats would be left on the streets.

Whereas the Orange County Animal Care services does not authorize the feeding of feral cats in order to support their successful TNR program, the City’s ordinance does not prohibit feeding cats, but we strongly encourage and support community participation in the health and well-being of our neighborhoods. The ‘level of a nuisance,’ as stated in the City’s Municipal Code 6.44.010, is met when unsafe conditions exist. Unmanageable cat colonies can be unsafe and unhealthy. Other nuisance examples include unkempt fire hazard (dry yard materials or rubbish), polluted swimming pool water, abandoned vehicles or parts thereof, and more.

The County’s program also monitors the cat colonies throughout our city and if a colony reaches 30 or more then it is deemed a health hazard as fleas and typhus then become a major health concern for the community. In these instances, the TNR program is not utilized and instead the cat neighborhoods are evaluated for health and safety concerns and cats are monitored and/or captured to address this concern. The City of Anaheim and Orange County Animal Care Services are committed to caring for our feral cat population and will continue to monitor, manage and address the concerns of the community related to the increasing amount of cat colonies and concern for the health and safety of our residents.

The City appreciates your care and concern for our community.

Below is the City’s link clarifying our recent ordinance adoption on our website and wanted you to know that the City has clarified language to the code and will be available online after June 6, 2015 when the new code take effect. We appreciate your feedback and the City is committed to caring for its feral cat while preserving a healthy population.

Sandra Sagert
Community Preservation Manager
City of Anaheim